Sunday, March 17, 2013

Educational Technology: Leveling the Playing Field

Throughout this course and throughout this blog, we have identified several reasons why technology should be used in a math classroom. These reasons have been anything from increasing student engagement, to more individualized education, to the availability of millions of different educational tools in the palm of your hand. All of these reasons highlight the overwhelming positives of having technology in the classroom. However, I really think if I had to sum it all up into one reason, I would say that educational technology levels the playing field.

What I mean when I say that it levels the playing field is that it allows all parties involved to have the same opportunities of anyone else in education. This includes students, teachers, parents, administrators, and the general public. I will go into more depth on some of these.

The most important of all the people educational technology affects is, of course, the students. Educational technology has opened new doors to countless opportunities that many students never had before. It used to be that if a student was bad at arithmetic, all he/she could do is do the same types of practice problems over and over until hopefully something clicked. Now, with all the apps, games, videos, and online tutors, students have a vast amount of resources at their finger tips. No longer are students handicapped by the information that is available to them. This has certainly leveled the playing field in the sense that all students now have access to information that they can use to better themselves in the math classroom.

Technology has also certainly leveled the playing field for teachers. With all of the blogs, videos, and apps out there for teaching, the sharing of ideas has become part of the profession. It used to be that if a teacher had a great lesson idea or way of explaining a concept, that idea only circulated to other teachers if it were by word of mouth or a workshop. Now, though, a teacher can post a really cool lesson idea one day, and the next day there could be hundreds of teachers around the world using that same lesson. In order to create a better world, we must educate our students to the highest of our ability levels. The sharing of great lessons and ideas contributes to the overall goal of education, which is to provide all students with the best education possible. Another way that technology has leveled the playing field is by providing more resources for teachers to use in order to create more authentic activities. As we move into the era of Common Core, we all know that we are striving for more authentic activities to create real-world relevance for our students. Before technology, students were handcuffed by the textbooks to either use their examples or completely come up with a new idea all on their own. Now, teachers have access to millions of activities that they can use to create relevance for any topic imaginable.

Educational technology is now involving parents in ways that were never possible before. For starters, now a lot of schools post grades online, which parents can check at any point. This allows parents to stay up to date with how their children are doing in school. New apps, games, and toys are now available for parents to purchase that keep their children both entertained, but also learning important mental skills. Also, before if a student would come home with an algebra assignment and the parents didn't know how to do it, the parents would either try to fumble through the textbook trying to understand it themselves, or just say they don't know how to do it and not help. With the emergence of online tutorial videos and apps, however, parents and their children can sit down and watch/do these things together so that they can both learn and try to understand the concept.

Educational technology has also been a huge help to administrators, as new information of teaching strategies, educational studies, and new technology is right at their fingertips. No longer do they have to feel like they are lagging behind other schools, because most schools will have the same types of opportunities through technology.

As you can obviously tell, I am a huge proponent of educational technology. I believe it is where our educational system is headed, and those who embrace it will be ahead of the game. However, I am not naive to the point where I don't see some flaws with technology in the classroom. I think finding the right balance is the most important facet of implementing technology in the classroom. That being said, I don't feel that the fear of something not working perfectly right away should stop you from trying it. There will be some bumps along the way, but I believe in the end that educational technology in the classroom and at home is necessary to level the playing field for all parties involved in education.